The culture and purpose of the company: the best train to get to the end of the tunnel.
Along 2019, I made a reﬂection on the importance of the company within a global outlook that was increasingly uncertain and fragile, this making the corporations and governments tend to have short-term policies, and that the companies that accepted this this new situation of uncertainty as an opportunity, rather than as a threat, were the ones that had greater possibilities to lead their category, even if they were not the leaders in their ranking.
Now we have gone from the uncertainty to how is the coronavirus going to affect the companies, the employees and the consumers.
Except for some worthy exceptions, the answer of most of the leading democracies in the world has been chaotic and belated, this causing more mistrust and originating a violent turn into political dysfunction, aggravating the public frustration, rather than reducing it.
The trust in the public institutions has become undermined.
Faced with the failure of the governments to provide solutions for the future, the society resorts to the companies, so they take care of finding solutions to the pressing social and economic problems. These difficulties include everything from the protection of the environment to pensions, poverty, and racial and gender inequalities: all of them will worsen extremely.
The social pressure on the corporations and companies, partially fuelled by the social media, grows quickly and reaches more people than ever.
On the other hand, it is a golden opportunity to accept the challenge, and not only to help, but to lead an innovative economic and social reconstruction. This should be the Corporate Social Responsibility indeed!
Before this state of constant disruption, and to face the challenge, every company needs a framework, and that starts by establishing a purpose, a raison d’être for the company, the business model and the corporate strategy.
The reasons why we do what we do is a vital starting point to build a brand and a culture. It is a powerful reason to align collaborators and to establish the differential value of the company for the clients.
The aim is not a positioning nor a marketing campaign, and it is neither the mission or the vision referred to what we do and to what we wish to become.
The purpose is the main reason for the existence of the company, what it does every day to produce value for its clients, employees and community. It allows it to build and consolidate a corporate culture as a management model that strengthens the performance of the business. The purpose is the key element that links the Brand and the Culture.
The aim is not to obtain benefits, but the force that makes it reach them.
The goal and the benefit of the company are linked.
When a company embraces and expresses its purpose, it makes itself work with a strategic focus and a discipline that leads to generate long-term benefits.
The purpose has a humanistic aspect. It unifies and aligns the will of managers, employees and communities.
It also draws a line regarding the ethical behaviour, and it works as a control system to detect and avoid actions that may go against the interest of the parties concerned.
The purpose leads the company’s culture, it helps to create a framework for making decisions consistently, and it therefore generates financial benefits.
The sense of belonging to something greater than oneself leads us to a greater level of involvement and creativity, and to the desire to be part of a winning team.
This motivation is what we must convey to the society to rebuild trust in the future.
And we must approach all this from a global, a universal prospective. This is not a problem of Spaniards, Europeans, Americans… It is a threat to humankind that is not stopped at the borders and that will not be stopped until we have a vaccine. Meanwhile, the fear will still rule many of the decisions of the states and companies. This will not end until it ends for all of us.
This is the time for the brave people, for caregivers, just as the health care providers have shown us: people that become heroes because they have a purpose.
Let us learn something from this experience.
We always talk about putting the consumer in the centre, but now let us put the people in the first place. People are overwhelmed. We had never faced anything so shocking as the coronavirus. The consumers want the corporate leaders to focus on providing solutions towards the common good rather than on strict business matters.
The first lesson is that this disaster needs collaboration and the acknowledgement of our humanity awareness. Although it will affect economy (and it will affect it dearly), it affects, in the first place, the lives and psyche of civilisation.
Let us inspire and generate confidence, not fear. Now that the news seems to immerse us into an apocalyptic film, a lot of fear and uncertainty is generated regarding the collective awareness. The companies that know how to inspire and generate trust will be considered true leaders.
Let us think how our companies can build trust in our communities, and let us generate a movement that inspires others to do the same.
Let us carry on planning and innovating. Although we do not see the end of the tunnel, there is light at the end. We need to be sure that we are travelling in the right train, and to that effect we need to design solid plans to carry on developing our activity in this new setting. This also entails innovating, improving what we already have and, ideally, finding solutions that leave the previous ones obsolete: disruptions.
The formula to do this is authenticity and a constant communication by the managing team.
Let us support and imply all our stakeholders, employees, investors, consumers and the communities on which we have an impact. Let us have a holistic view. Let us first collaborate to guarantee the public health regulations. We must stop the progression of the coronavirus. Later on, let us carry on looking, all together, for creative solutions to make our businesses revolve towards the new temporary circumstances, always looking to the horizon to get ready for the final situation. Let us do things well by doing good, as this guarantees our cultural relevance.
Let us position our brand as an ally that works and contributes towards the building of a better world.
Juan Daniel Sever.